Musicians’ inspirations /// Gary Moore (The Mirror Trap)

The Mirror Trap

I wanted to show a sort of generational solidarity when choosing a British album that has been inspirational to me, I toyed with the idea of picking something like Time For Heroes by The Libertines, or Silent Alarm by Bloc Party, something that came out when I was still a wide-eyed youth, but in the end I followed my blackened Goth heart and have gone for an old classic, Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division.

Unknown Pleasure is quite simply and incredible album, it doesn’t appear on most “best ever” lists for no reason, it is sonically ahead of its time, lyrically brilliant, atmospheric, haunting and an all round classic.

I’m sure my own personal attachment to Unknown Pleasures is quite similar to that of many people like me. I was a 16 year old high-school dropout, confused and unsure of my place in the world. I felt different. I couldn’t really connect with the sorts of things that the people around me were into, I became a bit weird and spent a lot of time on my own. I started to get into rock n roll through the bands that were around at the time, things like The Strokes and Kings of Leon, I bought a guitar, I felt like a had found a home, but something still wasn’t quite right. I loved the music but I couldn’t really relate to the stories of all night parties, cigarettes and model girlfriends, I lived with my Mum and only had two friends, and no matter how much I practiced I was still really shit on guitar.

Then I heard Unknown Pleasures. Straight away I felt like I had a filthy secret, it was perfect, suddenly things made a lot more sense, it was ok to be a bit odd and insecure. It was icy and cold, yet totally beautiful, it is like an invitation into a secret gang. It didn’t matter that I was rubbish at guitar, because they didn’t sound like real musicians either, it sounded like something that anyone could do, without taking anything away from the brilliance of the songs themselves. I went out and bought a cheap bass, keyboard and drum machine and started writing tons of songs, they were usually out of tune and badly played but If I could get the intended feeling down onto my four-track recorder I was happy. It was ok to write songs about my own deepest darkest feelings and the things that happened in my own life. Unknown Pleasures is liberation. Years later the singer in our first band quit and I was forced to take over lead vocals, I had never considered being a singer, I was content to hide at the back and let someone else sing my songs but I got confidence from the fact that Ian Curtis couldn’t really sing in the classical sense, yet he still became one of the greatest front men of all time, he put everything into it and created his own unique style. On top of all that there are little literary references in there, “Interzone” for example, which made me look into William Burroughs, that then opened up a whole other can of worms for me. I love music that incites further investigation, the Manics also do it well. I love tracking down the books and films referenced in my favourite songs and trying to see what meaning the songwriter has taken from them.

Try playing Unknown Pleasures really loud on your headphones while walking around a modern inner city at night, it is an almost transcendental experience, near spiritual. The grey concrete buildings and harsh street lights, the shadows and ally ways, it all mixes perfectly, it makes me feel like a ghost on the outside of society, indestructible and beyond reproach. When you have just worked five long days in a claustrophobic job that you hate, when TV makes you mad and people grind you down there is nothing more therapeutic that that sort of freedom.

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